Articles, whitepapers, reviews and more.


Diane Byington, Ph.D.

Book Review: Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman

Are you new to your job and feeling out of your depth and overwhelmed? If so, you probably have more to offer than you realize. In a rapidly changing world, being new, naïve, and even clueless can be an asset. According to author Liz Wiseman, the willingness to learn can be more valuable than mastery, and rookie smarts is often more beneficial to an organization than veteran comfort.

Wiseman doesn’t suggest that experience is a bad thing. Nobody wants their airline pilots, or their bridge builders, or their concert pianists to be rookies. But, while experience provides a distinct advantage in a stable field, it can actually impede progress in an unstable or rapidly evolving arena.

Book Review: Essentialism by Greg McKeown

At social occasions I hear a similar complaint repeated over and over: “I’m too busy. I’ve got to find some way to cut down on some of my activities.” I recommend the new book Essentialism, by Greg McKeown, as a way to decide which activities to cut and which to keep.

According to McKeown, Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less. It’s about doing only what is essential so you can operate at your highest point of contribution.

Walk the Walk: The #1 Rule for Real Leaders – Book Review

by Alan Deutschman. (2010). New York: Portfolio/Penguin. 182 pages.
Reviewed by Diane Byington, Ph.D.

Deutschman starts out with a little-known story about Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1962, King was speaking at a gathering of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and, in the middle of his speech, a white man jumped on the stage and punched him in the face several times so hard that he staggered backward and spun half around. He managed to turn back to face his assailant and then he dropped his arms, refusing to defend himself. The man was pulled away, but King insisted on talking to him privately, and he refused to press charges. King’s speech at that meeting was on nonviolence, but his refusal to fight back inspired his followers far more than his eloquent words.

Deutschman’s proposition is that we need to see our leaders “walking the walk” as well as “talking the talk” if we are going to be willing to follow them through difficult circumstances. As a journalist, he has a suitcase full of stories about leaders who successfully walked the walk, and as a result made significant changes in their environments. The stories were fun, and included tales that ranged from Eleanor Roosevelt to Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and a host of others. Reading these stories was the best part of the book.

Navigating Integrity: Transforming Business as Usual into Business at its Best – Book Review

by Al Watts. (2010). Minneapolis, MN: BRIO Press. 170 pages.

Reviewed by Diane Byington, Ph.D.

Reading this small book is like snuggling up with a friend next to a fire on a winter evening, sipping a glass of your favorite wine, and listening to him tell you the accumulated wisdom of his life. Al Watts is a veteran consultant who focuses on organizational integrity and also provides dynamite team-building lessons on board his sailboat. He combines these two passions in his new book.

Good Boss, Bad Boss – Book Review

by Robert I. Sutton. 2010. New York: Business Plus. 252 pages.

Reviewed by Diane Byington, Ph.D.

If you’re a boss, you’ll probably want to have this book on your bookshelf, along with its predecessor, the best-seller The No Asshole Rule. After achieving success with the first book, Sutton decided to research and write about what distinguishes good bosses from bad bosses. He does an excellent job combining research, personal experience, and common knowledge into a readable and helpful set of suggestions for how to be a good boss.

Accordingly, the book is filled with lists telling you, in specific terms, how to succeed as a boss. Casually flipping through the pages, I see lists that include: The 11 Commandments for Wise Bosses, How to Lead a Good Fight, Tricks for Taking Charge, and A Recipe for an Effective Apology. I especially liked that one.

Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It – Book Review

by Marshall Goldsmith. New York: Hyperion. 184 pages.
Reviewed by Diane Byington, Ph.D.

Are you burned out at work? Or, have you lost some enthusiasm and wish you could get it back? If so, check out this book. Marshall Goldsmith brings his long experience as an executive coach to the concept he describes as Mojo: that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside. In other words, we’ve got to feel enthusiastic toward what we are doing before we can send enthusiasm out for others to see. This book details how to increase your Mojo.

The most useful part of the book, for me, was his scorecard for measuring your Mojo. Goldsmith says we need to bring five qualities to an activity in order to do it well. These are: motivation, knowledge, ability, confidence, and authenticity. Likewise, five benefits we may receive from an activity include: happiness, reward, meaning, learning, and gratitude.